The context for social enterprise is country-specific and often varies dramatically by geography within countries. As we build the global social enterprise movement we want to enhance our understanding of the complex environments in which social enterprise ecosystems operate.
In 2019 we outlined characteristics and features of social enterprise based on input from our global partners and stakeholders. By capturing more country specific information through this global mapping project, SEWF will be better able to address the varied needs of social enterprises.
While this project is ambitious in its scale, our focus is largely on breadth. We attempt to understand the unique ways in which social enterprise is understood and operationalised in as many countries as possible and to capture the essence of the social enterprise ecosystem without reporting every detail.
Our global mapping project is ongoing and will report on:
- recognition of social enterprise
- popular terms for social enterprise
- number of social enterprises, and
- formal networks, legal structures, and strategies that exist to support social enterprises.
Soon we will be populating this website with information from our research.
It is challenging to analyse social enterprise in Austria by the EU operational criteria, however, an estimate using data from the Austrian Statistical Office and the commercial register, indicates that roughly 1,500 social enterprises operate in Austria.
Social enterprise is not a very familiar concept in Austria. Instead, they use terms such as “social economy” or “social integration” enterprises to describe the concept. There is no legal form for social enterprises in Austria, those that exist such as associations, public benefit limited liability companies, and cooperatives, are characterised based on whether they fit with the definitional criteria. In 2018, Austria enacted a public procurement law that considers the following: competitive tenders for social services, the criterion of awarding the economically advantageous bid instead of the lowest price, and compliance with social and environmental principles. Similar to Germany, their legal structures are centred around cooperatives and work integration social enterprises (WISE)
In Austria, social enterprises are constrained by multiple factors such as a lack of socio-political support; short-term funding; legal and fiscal uncertainties; little recognition; and an absence of common understanding. Due to these constraints, social enterprise has little prominence in Austria and there is a demand for strategies to improve these conditions.
At the end of 2020 there were 163 officially registered social enterprises within the Czech Republic working across 23 different economic fields.
Historically, in the Czech Republic, the terms ‘social entrepreneurship’ or ‘social economy’ are most commonly used when discussing the social enterprise sector. Recently ‘social enterprise’ has been gaining traction due to an increased government focus on social enterprises. Although the understanding of ‘social enterprises’ within the Czech Republic is still limited although there are advocacy and lobbying organisations like the Chamber of Social Enterprises, which lobbies on behalf of social enterprises, social entrepreneurs, and the social economy more broadly, and P3, which focuses on supporting social enterprises through consulting, seminars, and workshops, who are working to increase the visibility of social enterprises and provide support to those operating within the Czech Republic.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has a directory of social enterprises across the Czech Republic, which they continuously update. Their most recent survey of social enterprises in 2019 outlines many key characteristics of social enterprises in the country. More than half of the social enterprises in the Czech Republic focus on employment for individuals experiencing various forms of disadvantage. Social enterprises can be registered as Associations, Public Benefit Companies (non-profits), Social Co-operatives, or Limited Liability Companies. Introduced in 2014, a social co-operative legal is the only dedicated legal form for social enterprises, but it represents the smallest portion of approved social enterprises within the Czech Republic (only 8%). One of the Government’s social enterprise initiatives is an internship programme that encourages young people to get involved with the sector.
The European Commission estimated that in 2017 the number of social enterprises in Germany was 77,459. The origins of social enterprise in Germany lie mainly in voluntary community-led associations within health and social services, education and housing; cooperatives operated in agriculture, credit and retailing, while mutuals operated in insurance and philanthropic initiatives within the humanistic fields.
Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) recognised social enterprise through their 2018 coalition treaty in the section titled “Competitive Economy” indicating desire to bolster trading activities of social enterprise. Lots of higher education institutions promote social enterprise education and training. Impact HUB Munich, Berlin, and Dresden lead on the majority of accelerator activity while National German Cooperative Association works to advocate and monitor needs of cooperatives, additionally, SEND is a national association that promotes social entrepreneurship.
Overall, although the government began to recognise the topic of social enterprise in 2000’s, the government has still remained passive, there is still no definition, no strategy or any action plan in dedication to social enterprises. However, commitment from organisations to promote and advocate social enterprises and cooperatives is increasing the visibility of socially and/or environmentally aware organisations.
In 2018 the British Council conducted a mapping study in Malaysia to better understand the scope of the sector and estimated that there were 20,749 social enterprises operating in Malaysia.
This British Council study estimated the number of social enterprises by analysing small and medium businesses, NGOs, and co-operatives in the country that operated like social enterprises. While awareness and understanding is building in Malaysia especially given a change of government in 2018, most people still often conflate the familiar terms “NGO” and “charity organisation” with social enterprise. The establishment of the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development (MED) in 2018 has sparked greater understanding of social enterprise in Malaysia and created a system by which social enterprises can officially be accredited through MED. In 2019, those official registrations are still low, but the numbers are growing as MED builds a greater awareness of the potential for social enterprises in Malaysia.
In the past two years the social enterprise movement in Malaysia has really picked up due to changes in government and reorganisation of ministries. In addition to MED, the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) is another government body invested in social enterprise development in Malaysia. However, the Malaysian government is more focused on the development of entrepreneurship broadly as a mindset to spur economic growth and development than they are on social enterprise specifically.
A British Council study (2019) estimated that approximately 20,000 social enterprises exist in Morocco. These social enterprises operate as cooperatives, for-profit SARLs (société à responsabilité limitée) or associations, and the majority are newly established.
The concept of social enterprise is not officially recognised in Morocco, with no policies explicitly aimed at social enterprise activities. However, a small number of governmental initiatives effectively support social enterprises. The National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) which was established in 2005, aims to eradicate instability for vulnerable populations by promoting income generating activities. Furthermore, the Ministry of Handicrafts, Social Economy and Solidarity launched their National Strategy of the Social and Solidarity Economy 2010-2020. The Ministry has recently confirmed that a framework law for social enterprises is currently being discussed.
In Morocco, social entrepreneurship is a growing movement, with 86% of social enterprise owners stating that they expect to grow their business in the next year (British Council, 2019). This progress is driven by awareness-building campaigns, education forums and capacity-building programmes.
While the data is not yet conclusive, there are over 220 known social enterprises operating in Sudan today. They are currently undergoing their first mapping project to evaluate social enterprise activity in the country.
In Sudan the term social enterprise is quite new and largely only recognised by international organisations or corporations—not the general public or government. Nonprofit is a far more common term for people to use because legal structures exist for nonprofit organisations, but not for nonprofits operating as social enterprises. These social enterprise organisations can either choose to register as NGOs or limited liability companies. With the official registration of the Sudan Social Enterprise Association on 19 October 2019, there is now an official network for social enterprise in Sudan. The Association will begin to build greater understanding of the social enterprise movement within Sudan and advocate for the sector as it continues to grow.
The social enterprise movement in Sudan is still in its initial stages, but is increasingly picking up momentum as key stakeholders begin to recognise its potential for addressing pressing social and environmental challenges in Sudan. As the government attempts to tackle the issue of employability in the country, social enterprises are slowly being considered as viable models for addressing this problem. If any strategy for social enterprise is developed, it is likely that it will at least initially focus on social enterprise as a tool for employment.
Social enterprise in Thailand is a growing sector with approximately 120,000 social enterprises residing in Thailand (The Asia Foundation, 2015). One study by the British Council found that the majority, 56%, of social enterprises are located in Bangkok. The main industries operating as social enterprises are agriculture, fisheries and livestock 15.8%, education 12.3% and health 11.6%.
There has been a growth of social enterprises established from 2010 onwards when the government introduced the Social Enterprise Promotion Act to define and support the development of social enterprise by offering tax relief for corporations setting up social enterprises and tax incentives for social investment. However, awareness and understanding are still some of the major constraints experienced by social enterprises in Thailand.
Although Thailand has multiple intermediaries e.g Change Fusion, Ashoka Thailand, NISE Corporation and there is growing interest from corporations to set up and/or support social enterprise, there are still constraining factors such as creating sound business models, limited public awareness, management challenges and access to finance.